The corps de ballet make up the backbone of every company. In our Fall 2020 issue, we highlighted 10 ensemble standouts to keep your eye on. Click on their names to learn more!
Dara Holmes and Edson Barbosa in Myles Thatcher's Body of Your Dreams
Cheryl Mann, Courtesy Joffrey Ballet
Wanyue Qiao as an Odalisque in Konstantin Sergeyev's Le Corsaire
Gene Schiavone, Courtesy ABT
Joshua Guillemot-Rodgerson (far right) with Saul Newport and Austen Acevedo in Oliver Halkowich's Following
Amitava Sarkar, Courtesy Houston Ballet
Leah McFadden as Amour in Colorado Ballet's production of Don Quixote
Mike Watson, Courtesy Colorado Ballet
Maria Coelho and Sasha Chernjavsky in Andy Blankenbuehler's Remember Our Song
Kate Lubar, Courtesy Tulsa Ballet
Alexander Reneff-Olson (right) as Von Rothbart with San Francisco Ballet principal Yuan Yuan Tan in Swan Lake
Erik Tomasson, Courtesy SFB
India Bradley practices backstage before a performance of Balanchine's Tschaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2.
Erin Baiano, Courtesy NYCB
Bella Ureta performs the Act I Pas de Trois in Kirk Peterson's Swan Lake
Hiromi Platt, Courtesy Cincinnati Ballet
Alejandro González in Michael Pink's Dracula at Oklahoma City Ballet.
Kate Luber, Courtesy Oklahoma City Ballet
Nina Fernandes in George Balanchine's The Nutcracker
Alexander Iziliaev, Courtesy Miami City Ballet
Back in April, it seemed like everyone in the performing arts was either coping with company shutdowns or watching future work evaporate before their eyes. As seasons were canceled or pushed off into the unknown future, choreographer Val Caniparoli took a deep breath and focused on a glimmer of hope: Finnish National Ballet had commissioned him to develop a full-length Jekyll & Hyde, and was determined to move forward with its November world premiere. So, Caniparoli hunkered down in his apartment while honing his vision at all hours to build this psychological thriller into a reality.
Before the Pandemic<p>Caniparoli had been deep inside the creation of his premiere, based on Robert Louis Stevenson's book <em>The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde</em>, for many years. While his ballet—which features scenic and costume design by David Israel Reynoso and music compiled from five Polish composers—is scheduled to debut in Helsinki on November 6, much of the designs, storyboard and research had already been accomplished before anybody had heard of COVID-19.</p><p>"There were a few companies interested in having me create this work, including Kansas City Ballet," says Caniparoli. In May 2019, he received funding to workshop his ideas for <em>Jekyll & Hyde </em>and approached KCB. Artistic director Devon Carney agreed for him to workshop his ideas with six dancers over two weeks. He and his frequent assistant Maiqui Mañosa used the time to develop a scene in a mental institution that includes 16 patients dancing on hospital beds.</p>
Chris Hardy, Courtesy Val Caniparoli
Man by Day, Choreographer by Night<p>Shortly after Caniparoli returned home to San Francisco, the city declared a shelter-in-place order. Accustomed to frequent travel for work, he was now stuck in his two-bedroom condo for the foreseeable future. But over 5,000 miles away, Onne suggested Caniparoli continue his choreographic process via Zoom. However, there was a catch: Finland is 10 hours ahead of San Francisco, and Caniparoli's assistant was locked down in Philadelphia. This unconventional solution was transforming into something much more unusual.</p><p>In May, Onne asked several dancers to come into the studios so Caniparoli could stage the scene in the mental institution. Not only was Caniparoli creating virtually for the first time, he was working the night shift, with six hours of rehearsals starting at 1 am San Francisco time.</p>
Zooming in for the Landing<p>In August, after five months of sheltering in place, Caniparoli finally returned to Finland to focus on finalizing his world premiere. "It all happened very fast. The decision was made that I could fly, but I had to get a negative result from a COVID-19 rapid test the day I traveled. From there, I spent the next two weeks in my hotel room under quarantine and back on Zoom for rehearsals."</p><p>Unable to risk going back home before the premiere, Caniparoli will stay in Finland through the first week of November. While FNB focuses on preparing for and performing its current season, which includes a delayed production from this past spring, Caniparoli continues to hold daily rehearsals for <em>Jekyll & Hyde</em>. He is also conducting Zoom rehearsals with Cincinnati Ballet and Oregon Ballet Theatre while continuing to arrange future work with companies around the globe.<em><strong></strong></em></p>
When Sir Frederick Ashton premiered Thaïs Pas de Deux, a duet set to the "Méditation" interlude from Jules Massenet's opera Thaïs, the ballet was immediately acclaimed as one of his masterpieces, despite the fact that it is only a few minutes long. In this clip from 2008, Lucia Lacarra and Cyril Pierre, then principals of the Bavarian State Ballet, give a tender, enchanting performance that is six-and-a-half minutes of pure beauty.